Friday, December 5, 2008

Joe's First Day

For those of you living inside the DC beltway, you will completely understand this post. For those of you who do not live here, I will do my best to paint a picture for you so that you, too, will understand.

Ahh, life in DC. On any given day 75% of the people you pass will be dressed in black…most of them in a black suit. The other 25% will be mainly tourists (and most of them feel the need to wear red, white and blue while visiting our Nation’s capitol). But what you may not know is that on Capitol Hill there are 2 times of the year…in session, and recess. These can be translated in many different ways: 1) when the member is in town, and when he/she isn’t, 2) Suits, and casual, 3) Busy, and not so busy.

My first day working in the Senate was a Friday. I was very worried about what to wear, but I had gotten a heads up that Senator Thomas was rarely in the office on Friday’s so I could dress “business casual.” Thus, I wore a black skirt, hose, heels and a nice shirt (besides, I only had 2 suits and I had to save them for the following week). I was over dressed…way over dressed. Most of the rest of the office was in khaki pants or even jeans. I learned quickly what they meant by “business casual.” Kind of like my first day here at the ADA when I showed up at 8:30am only to discover that no one else arrives until 9ish…and I use “ish” very loosly.

Well, Thursday was Joe’s first day working for a member of the House. He didn’t say it…he didn’t have to, but I could tell that he was very excited and nervous. He woke up fairly early so he could leave in plenty of time to fight the traffic and get to his new office (I should also mention that traffic flow in DC fluctuates based on in session and recess). Even though Congress is in recess right now, since it was his first day I know that Joe wanted to look nice. Later that afternoon we were talking and I said “I’m going to guess that you were the only one in a suit.” Joe’s response was, “Yes, and as soon as I arrived the Chief of Staff met me at the door and told me I could take off my tie.” I, of course, burst into laughter. Being a former hill staffer, I can just imagine Joe showing up all decked out in a suit and tie, trying his best to make a good first impression, while everyone else in the office wore jeans. When a staffer wears a suit during recess it only means 1 of 2 things, they are new, or they are interviewing for other jobs. While most hill staffers I know keep an extra jacket (and tie for men) at their desk for those “just in case” moments, I can guarantee that Joe won’t wear a tie during recess again.